The BCF Group

The Dangers of Overconfidence in a NEBOSH General Certificate Exam


Rather than a lack of knowledge, one of the primary reasons for a candidate failing one or more of the assessments which accompany NEBOSH General Certificate courses is because of overconfidence, and the subsequent problems which this creates.

Confidence in Exams is Not Always a Bad Thing

Of course, being confident when going into examinations is typically a good thing. Feeling nervous will frequently lead to forgetting vital information and/or failing to answer the questions in the specific way in which they are asked (state, list, explain, define etc - see more on this on Point 2 - Not answering the questions according to how they are asked). No matter how much self study has been undertaken before sitting down for the course exam, nerves have been the nemesis of many a student.

Overconfidence can be Detrimental to Exam Success

At the other end of the spectrum, overconfidence can be just as damaging. Even before setting foot in the building for day one of the NEBOSH General course, some delegates will believe that they already know all of the information, perhaps even more than the course tutor, and that everything taught on the training course will either be simple common sense or a re-cap of what they already know. This can be particularly true of those who have been working in an industry for many years where they have the potential to encounter numerous hazards, and so feel that they have already acquired sufficient knowledge regarding health and safety during their career. The fact that their manager and employer has deemed it necessary to enrol them on the course suggests otherwise though.

The NEBOSH General Certificate Comprises a Lot of Information to Learn

Not only is the delegate likely to approach the exams in an overconfident or even dismissive manner, but they will probably also take the same attitude towards the course tuition too. The amount of information contained on the NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus is substantial, with the course duration typically 10 days of full time training. Some individuals resent having to sit through a two week course, even if work are picking up the cost and they are still being paid for attending, believing that it is a waste of their time and like being back at school.

Whatever their attitude towards the course or exam, the simple reality is that in all likelihood they will need to achieve this qualification in order to either continue in their current employment with the company, or to move on to a higher position with that company or another employer. Overconfidence or arrogance is likely to result in one or both of the following two consequences:

Missing Critical Information

A person may think they know everything there is to know about health and safety in the workplace, but the topic is so vast that this is highly improbable. Consequently, not paying attention in class to the course tutor will result in missing vital information which will not only be required for the exam, but would also serve the person well when they are back in the workplace in regards to keeping themselves and others free from coming to harm. The NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus will also teach subjects which the individual had not even considered before as a potential issue such as psychological health hazards or the moral reasons for implementing health and safety standards and procedures.

If the candidate misses this information when it is taught due to not paying attention during the class, they will not be able to put it down on the exam paper should a question on this topic come up. These lost marks can be the difference between a pass and a fail.

Not Answering the Questions According to How They Are Asked

Passing the examinations is not just a matter of learning all there is to know about the subject. NEBOSH exam questions beginning with verbs such as explain, define, list, outline etc will need answering in different ways, and the number of marks available will also serve to determine the length and type of answer demanded.

This is information which a person will not know unless they have been taught it by the course tutor. It is therefore not sufficient to just go straight into the exam thinking that it can be easily passed, as even with all of the knowledge in the world, if the candidate does not answer the question in the format required by the question, they will receive little or no marks for their efforts.


So in conclusion, whilst confidence is important when it comes to the NEBOSH General Certificate exam, overconfidence and arrogance which results in a person not giving the course syllabus the attention and respect it necessitates will find themselves at a major disadvantage when it comes to sitting the exams; so much so that it may result in failure and non-achievement of this sought-after health and safety qualification.

NEBOSH Courses

Please see below for some NEBOSH courses and qualifications which you may be interested in:

NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety is the flagship NEBOSH qualification, and is the first UK vocational qualification to be developed specifically for health and safety professionals.

The NEBOSH National Diploma provides the core health and safety knowledge (transferable across industry, commerce and the public sector) which, combined with understanding and appropriate application, underpins the competent performance of an occupational health and safety practitioner.

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NEBOSH National Diploma in Environmental Management

The NEBOSH Environmental Diploma is intended for safety professionals and managers who are taking on environmental responsibilities. It is designed for individuals with responsibilities for the management of environmental risk in relation to the damage caused by work activities.

Holders of the NEBOSH Environmental Diploma will be able to advise their organisation on the environmental impacts of their activities, on their legal obligations and the means of continuously improving their environmental performance as part of an integrated management approach.

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NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH General Certificate is one of the most popular and widely-held health and safety qualifications in the UK. It is intended to be taken by managers, supervisors and any other employees who require an understanding of general health and safety issues.

The NEBOSH General Certificate covers the main legal requirements for health and safety in the UK, along with the identification and control of workplace hazards, and the practical application of this knowledge. The general content of the NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus means it is suitable and relevant for those working in virtually any industry, and is often used as a solid foundation for those going on to further study and specialising in a particular area such as construction site health and safety or fire safety.

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NEBOSH National Certificate in Fire Safety and Risk Management

The NEBOSH Fire Certificate is aimed primarily at managers and supervisors who are responsible for fire safety within their organisation and compliance with applicable fire safety legislation.

The course aims to give delegates the knowledge to conduct and review fire risk assessments, along with fire prevention and protective measures within most workplaces.

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NEBOSH National Certificate in Construction Health and Safety

The NEBOSH Construction Certificate, or NEBOSH National Certificate in Construction Health & Safety to give it its full title, is one of the most recognised health and safety qualificatons in the construction industry.

It is aimed primarily at managers, supervisers, CDM co-ordinators and anyone else who is responsible for making sure that construction activities under their control are undertaken safely.

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NEBOSH Certificate in Environmental Management

The NEBOSH Environmental Certificate, or NEBOSH National Certificate in Environmental Management to give it its full title, is an environmental health and safety course which is intended to be taken by managers, supervisors and any other employees who are responsible for managing environmental issues at their workplace.

The NEBOSH Environmental Certificate qualification focuses on UK law, so is really only suitable for those who are based and operate within the UK.

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